11 December 2009

Rorke’s other Drift

The present advocate reviewed the case again - and I cannot speak for the advocate, only what was given to me - he felt that the review was unnecessary but would continue based on the actions of the previous advocate.
That’s child, youth and family services minister Joan Burke during Question Period in the House of Assembly on December 10

She’s referring to retired judge John Rorke and a review of a tragic death in Labrador initiated by his predecessor. 

Now all these high-fallutin’ legal notions might be more than a humble e-scribbler can grasp but surely it is just dead wrong for someone to state an opinion on an investigation before it is concluded.

Wouldn’t this be like the judge saying  - before any evidence had been presented - that he could see no reason in wasting everyone’s time on this and entering a verdict right off the bat?

And it would be even worse  - wouldn’t it? - if, having made such a preliminary judgment, he then communicated that observation to someone outside his office.

Now if Judge Rorke, as he used to be, has reviewed the material collected to date and has reached a conclusion, he certainly has the power to do so and cease any further inquiry into the matter.

It’s spelled out clearly in the law:
18. The advocate, in his or her discretion, may refuse to review or investigate or may cease to review or investigate a complaint where…e) in his or her opinion the circumstances of the complaint do not require investigation; …”.
How very peculiar that the former judge would persist in a review which he had already decided was unnecessary and that he could stop on his own authority.

How very peculiar indeed.